WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - North Carolina’s top attorney wants to put and end to robocalls and has the support of some major players in the communications world.
Attorney General Josh Stein, along with Attorney Generals Gordon MacDonald of New Hampshire and Leslie Rutledge of Arkansas, announced a Memorandum of Understanding Thursday between 51 attorney generals and 12 major phone companies.
“There is more that the phone companies can do to protect us and shield us from these unwanted phone calls,” Stein said of the partnership. “So, we reached out to industry leaders and engaged in an extended dialogue to identify ways to better protect our constituents and their customers.”
Stein says robocalls are the number one complaint received by the NC Attorney General’s Office. According to Stein, more than 47 Billion robocalls were made nationwide in 2018. More than 40 percent came from neighborhood spoofing calls.
“To many of us, it’s an annoyance, but to others, it’s their life savings,” Stein said. “We owe it to the most vulnerable in our communities to do everything in our power to protect them.”
The partnership plan involves a two-stage approach of prevention and enforcement from AT&T, Bandwidth, CenturyLink, Charter, Comcast, Consolidated, Frontier, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Verizon, and Winstream.
Preventative plans include, implementation of free call-blocking technology at the network level, and additional user-level blocking and labeling tools. Networks will also actively monitor their networks for robocall traffic and implement number authentication technology.
Phone providers will also work with attorney generals to identify its actual customers and take action against suspicious callers. Meanwhile, they pledge to work with law enforcement, the State Attorney General’s Office and its contractors to cooperate with traceback identification to trace illegal calls.
Stein noted the negotiations with phone companies took time, but adds that the partnership now means that the companies are committed to putting money behind a potential solution.
“The businesses — they have X amount of capital, and they have to deploy it in a certain ways, and there’s always competition as to where that money is spent,” Stein noted. “What we tried to do as attorney generals was to get them to really focus on this problem, to the extent where they were committed to investing real dollars to tackling it.”